Recipe Book | Easy. Tasty. Healthy.

Barbara Cousins Easy Tasty Healthy

Recently I have had a rather prominent (and very annoying) IBS flare up. Should I eat anything containing gluten or dairy I swell up like a balloon so I look 6 months pregnant, I become very gassy, I get rather ill and I get stomach cramps like you wouldn’t believe. It takes me a few days to get over each episode so instead I decided to go dairy and gluten free.

It wasn’t too bad to start with. I enjoy vegetables and fruit and had a few staple meals that were already part of my usual diet. But I soon got bored of eating them all the time with nothing else thrown in there, so I invested in some new cookbooks to try and get some new ideas. Now as much as I enjoy cooking (and I do) I don’t like really technical recipes, or having to buy ingredients specially as I don’t plan that far in advance. When I came across Barbara Cousin’s Easy. Tasty. Healthy it felt like she’d written it just for me.

Barbara Cousins ETH Contents

All of her recipes were really easy to make and, more importantly to me, were made from normal ingredients that I already had in my cupboard or freezer. It made switching to a gluten and dairy free diet extremely easy, and even though I still miss cheese (mmmm cheese!) there are some creamy tasting pots in here to help curb that craving.

 

Easy. Tasty. Healthy has become my go to recipes book over the past couple of weeks and I’ve even made some recipes for G who has absolutely loved them (he can be funny about food). I’ve also ended up reintroducing a lot of dishes into my diet that I couldn’t be bothered to make previously like her simple tomato soup – with my own twist of course.

Barbara Cousins ETH Tomato Soup

Have you found any great gluten and dairy free cookbooks recently? I’d love to find some more.

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My Left Foot By Christy Brown

My Left Foot is the life story of Christy Brown, an individual born in 1930s Ireland with Cerebral Palsy. Written as an autobiography the book depicts his memories of his early life, the struggles and breakthroughs he made growing up in a large, healthy family, his eventual realisation and reaction to the fact he was ‘a cripple’, and the impacts this had on his development – both physically, mentally and socially.

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This book is one I have read as part of my university course (hence the library stickers in my photos), but also one that I felt the need to share. It gives such an incredibly in-depth view into the life of someone with a debilitating illness and talks about the impact it has upon well-being, family life and individual relationships.

Christy openly shares his story in this heart-rendingly honest book. Being born with severe cerebral palsy Christy didn’t meet the usual developmental milestones most infants do. After being given the diagnosis Christy’s mother was told not to invest herself in her son as he wouldn’t ever get better. Despite doctors and family reiterating this opinion Mrs. Brown resolutely ignored this and developed a bond with her son despite the fact that even as he grew up he could not communicate, feed or wash and dress himself or even sit up.

Suddenly I wanted desperately to do what my sister was doing. Then – without thinking or knowing exactly what I was doing, I reached out and  took the stick of chalk out of my sister’s hand – with my left foot.

After years of watching his family from the prison of his mind Christy found a way to communicate with the world in which he lived. Through this he was able to actively participate in his life despite his not insignificant limitations. But as he grew up along side his able siblings he began to notice the differences between them. It wasn’t until his boyhood chariot broke, in which his brother’s wheeled him around, that he realised the extent of his differences.

This realisation was a turning point for him. He no longer wanted to participate in playing with his brothers and friends, instead he became self conscious and introverted and turned to painting as a way to release the emotional tension building inside of him. This worked for a while, but as his siblings grew older and made lives for themselves while he was left behind he became despondent.

I sat on the broken bit of board, letting all the calm and peace of the night soak into me. I seemed to be lost in a moon-lit dream, away from all the things that made my every-day world such a hell to live in. For a moment I was happy. Then I remembered. The future yawned like a black pit before me. I felt trapped and chained.

Christy’s story however is a happy one. With the help of the Cerebral Palsy Association and a lot of hard work and dedication Christy learned to speak and gain some control of his body so that he could sit and move unaided, eventually becoming the burgeoning writer so eloquently portrayed in his book.

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This is a book I would recommend to anyone. While difficult to read in parts it is a beautiful representation of the importance of accepting people as a whole and recognising their capability rather than focusing solely on their physical limitations.

*Do you know when it’s time to defrazzle?

Just before Christmas I was sent a copy of ‘The mindfulness guide for the frazzled’ (Ruby Wax’s new book) with a selection of lovely de-stressing bits and bobs and asked to review it. I was a little bit dubious to start with – I mean who is Ruby Wax to write a mindfulness guide, but I was really pleasantly surprised.

What is it about?

Pretty much what it says on the tin – a mindfulness guide full of Ruby’s trademark wit, snippets of her life and well-rounded information on mindfulness. Like Ruby I am a bit of a pragmatist. I want to know how things work in order to fix them, so her whistle-stop tour to why we become stressed and how mindfulness physically rewires our brains was probably what made the book so much more interesting to me as well as stand apart from others I have read.

With the help of neuro scientists and other clever bods she explains what stress is, what it does to the body and what happens if we don’t tackle it. All interspersed with her silly comments, searing honesty and uncomfortably negative view of herself.

Focused attention helps us to redirect our thoughts and feelings rather than being driven by them ~ Dr Daniel Siegel

The message I got was a simple one – mindfulness is not attached to a religion, it is not sitting cross legged on the floor for half an hour everyday or even trying to be less stressed. It is simply paying attention to what you’re doing ~ being in the zone. 

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What did you think of it?

For what it is – a guide – I think it’s a little long. To me it reads a little like a thesis without the references (although that is probably me projecting my assignments onto everything I read ~yawn). Still I have to say I love it. There are sections where Ruby opens up about her own experiences, thoughts and paranoia’s and honestly all I want to do is give her a big squeeze and tell her that she’s not the only one that gets like that.

It’s a very easy book to read but it’s also very informative – Kudos to Ruby Wax, it shows what a good writer she is – but not only that, it’s something that you can keep on the shelf to refer back to whenever you feel your motivation slipping or you want to remind yourself of something. In that sense it truly is a guide.

Has is altered your view of stress?

Yes and no. I knew stress was bad, I mean I’ve experienced enough of it. I also knew that it was my own fault that I was stressed (learn to switch off every once in a while) but what I didn’t realise was just how bad an effect stress can have on you physically. I mean we all know people who get stressed about being stressed – it’s a viscous circle – but being stressed can literally delete your memory too – I’m serious!

What have you taken away from it/is there anything you will change?

I was already a fan of mindfulness although I didn’t practice it nearly as much as I should. Now that I have an overview of the health issues it can exacerbate (yes really!) it’s encouraged me to pick up my practice again and keep it more regularly. For me what I have really taken away is this:

If you want to be happy, learn to pay attention.

Would you recommend it?

Yes. 100%. It’s the first guide to mindfulness that I have read (in all honesty I’ve only tried about 3) that hasn’t been a wishy-washy hippy type book (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or a book so filled with facts and figures and doctors recommendations that I haven’t been able to read an entire sentence without breaking my flow. I know it won’t be for everyone and a lot of people will be a little dubious about it, but give it a go, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

But before you run out and buy a copy or wage war with my opinion, let me ask you one question ~ do you know when it’s time to #defrazzle?

*this was sent to me by bloggeration in return for a MH bloggers take on the book

How to stop being a serial dieter

With New Year just around the corner I have already heard rumblings of the new fad diets that will be out ‘just in time’. After the indulgence of Christmas everyone wants to cut back and loose a few pounds. But if you’re like me you’re a serial dieter – sticking at something for a few weeks or months before giving up and going back to “normal”.

2016 has been a hard year for me. Don’t get me wrong there are some really good positives but overall it’s been a bit gruelling, which has meant that I have been binge eating and put on a considerable amount of weight. I’ve tried a few healthy eating style diets this year but just haven’t been able to make them stick. So I decided to read up on unhealthy relationships with food and see where I was going wrong.

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Overcoming Binge Eating has been an incredibly insightful book for me. Written by Dr Chris Fairburn it’s been through rounds of peer reviews, has a strong evidence base and several ‘real life’ recommendations so I know it’s not just another fad, but beyond that it actually makes sense.

There are two parts to the book; the first part which details what binge eating is, helps you discover whether you have a problem with this and whether you’re ready to change it, and the second part which is a clinically approved CBT guide to help you create a healthier relationship with food.

It has completely altered my view of my relationship with food and helped me identify where I go wrong in diets, what causes it and how Ii can overcome it. By no means does he say that it will be easy – on the contrary  he tells you just how hard it will be and that you have to decide if it’s worth the effort.

Once I’m back from my holiday (yay I can’t wait) I will be starting the first step on the process which will take me around 4 – 6 months. I know it sounds excessive but I’ve been a yo-yo dieter for too long. It’s time to properly understand my relationship with food so I can better control it.

Have you read overcoming binge eating, what were your thoughts?

Book Review: The Soloist by Steve Lopez

The soloist started life as a series of articles written for the Los Angeles Times by journalist Steve Lopez. This incredibly inspiring true story then became a best selling book before reaching the big screen in 2008 featuring Robert Downey Jnr and Jamie Foxx. It tells the story of a meeting between Lopez and Mr Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless schizophrenic, and the unlikely friendship that blossomed from that.
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Book Review: Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Elizabeth is Missing
Image Credit: http://www.parkerandme.co.uk

‘I didn’t go to the wrong house,’ I say quietly, steadily, the assertion making me feel like a small child. ‘I’m not stupid. Elizabeth is missing.’ I take a shuddering breath in the silence. ‘Why don’t you care? Why won’t anyone do anything?’ I think I’m beginning to shout, but I can’t help it. ‘Anything could have happened to her. Anything. Why will no one do a thing to  help find her?’

Written in the voice of Maud, the narration of Elizabeth Is Missing gives a heartrendingly insightful look into the life of those living with dementia/senility. Inevitably frustrating but incredibly intriguing, this novel captures your attention, keeps you guessing and is difficult to put down – so much so that I spent a rainy Saturday curled up on the sofa and read it in a day!

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